Dennis Juma: Why He's Giving Back to Kids in Mathare Valley
Mathare Community Outreach, Kenya - Dennis Juma was born in Bondo, a rural village in Kenya. His father, the sole breadwinner for the family, died when Dennis was very young. After his father’s death, he, his mother, and his siblings went to live with his paternal grandparents until they kicked the entire family out. Having nowhere else to go his mother moved the family to Mathare Valley because this was the only place where living was affordable. During this time his mother worked domestic jobs in order to provide for Dennis and his siblings, but she was barely able to feed them.
Tragedy hit once again when Dennis’ mother died suddenly one night. “One night we ate supper and went to sleep. In the morning we found our mum lying down on the floor where we used to sleep just next to her bed not able to speak a word,” said Dennis. This was very hard on Dennis, who at the time was only eight years old. He explained the hopelessness he felt, “When my mum died I thought of dying together with her because at that time life had no meaning. But little did I know that God had a good plan for me and my siblings.”
It was after this that Bright Hope’s partner, Outreach Community Church, took in Dennis and his siblings. They provided housing, education, and cared for their basic needs through the Mathare Valley School Feeding Program, and brought Hope back into the lives of Dennis and his siblings. “Over time I came to realize that I needed to give my life to Christ,” said Dennis. “Having Christ in my life gave me a new life. Now my life was changed spiritually as well as physically. I had Hope— a Hope I still have today.”
Since then Dennis graduated high school, completed post-secondary teacher training, and received a college degree. He is now using his education to bring Hope to other kids in Mathare Valley and says, “The kids in Mathare knew my story so I could encourage them when I teach, that in this life nothing is impossible with God, and through my presence they could really work hard to be like me. I thank God because there are those who have succeeded through me.”
Dennis now lives in Nairobi with his wife and daughter and teaches full time.